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Category Archives: Companion animals

Boner Boy (the case of the very horny dog)

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After getting absolutely no response on the Bukowski post (none of you blog readers enjoys classic literature I guess) I suppose it is back to doing what people liked about this blog: funny animal stories. Actually, what people seem to like best is advice or sports or politics or medical shit but here goes anyway.
I was in my second year of pet sitting, having yet to give my business a name (it later became Moonlight Pet Sitting) and I had a regular client I’d acquired through the clinic I worked at. Suffice it to say all of my clients at that time were through the clinic. I’d met the family when I assisted with the euthanasia of their cat, a very sad event indeed, but what follows is quite humorous. Besides the cat they also had two beagles, a male and female, Max and Roxy respectively. They were both very sweet dogs that got to enjoy a lot of time outside because they had a fenced backyard, and were also very young at this point. Max was just over a year and Roxy was six months. Because of this she had to be crated when left alone in the house and Max had to be kept in the laundry room. They later added a dog door and allowed Roxy free reign, but at the time I was pet sitting for them this wasn’t the case, so I always tried not to be gone for very long in sympathy of their overactive bladders.
Whenever I pet sat for them the owners would gate off the kitchen/dining room area (as this had the patio doors that led to the backyard) and this was where we spent all of our time. The living room was right next to it and I could turn on the TV and watch it from the kitchen table. Gradually I’d allow myself to go over the gate and sit in one of the living room chairs, but mostly I hung out with them out of compassion because when I went over the gate they wanted to as well. At night we all slept in one of the kids bedrooms in the bed together, snuggling closely.
So things went like this for about a year and then a friend of theirs got a poodle mix named Black Jack and I began pet sitting for him too. He was a very sweet, hyper little guy and he loved playing with Max and Roxy. Since they got on so famously the owners elected to have me pet sit all three at the beagle’s house when the two families went on vacation together. No problem, I thought. Easy money because I could charge for three pets.
That was where I was wrong. Together they were a nonstop combo of playfulness that knew no bounds. They tore around the yard constantly, the three of them acting like kids on the first day of summer vacation. And that wasn’t all. For some reason (although all three were fixed) they went at it like a bunch of horny teenagers. Black Jack was after Roxy and Max was after Black Jack. Yes, this meant that Max was gay or bi, but at least he wasn’t going after his sister (I failed to mention that they were from the same bitch, different fathers but same mom).
One evening as the orgy was taking a turn for the worse I had to separate all of them but I allowed Max to have his pillow. He kept at that thing, humping and humping as I watched and laughed. That is until I realized I should make him stop. I mean, enough is enough, right?
When I took the pillow away I noticed Max was walking all hunched over, that he seemed as if he was in pain. Closer examination revealed his erect penis was stuck outside the prepuce (the sheath of skin that holds it in). It was big and red and swollen (well, duh). I didn’t know what to do so I called the veterinarian I worked for. At the time he’d take my calls after hours (it was nine on a Saturday night) on his home phone or cell.
“Hello?” he answered.
“It’s huge and it’s swollen!” I exclaimed.
“What?”
“And it’s all red and I can’t get it to go down! What do I do?”
At this point I have to mention that the vet was young and had a perverted mind like my own. I think it is safe to say he thought I was talking about myself and was somewhat taken aback (only because he wasn’t gay).
“What do you want me to do about it?” Sounds like a personal problem, his tone suggested.
“It’s Max!” I explained and at once he understood.
“Let me get on line.”
He booted up his laptop and started researching it.
“Get some cold water, or some ice and apply it to the, um, swelling…”
At this we both had to laugh.
“Either that or you can use salt. You know, like how you can remove a leech or slug?”
“Sure, sure.”
I dug through the cabinets, found a rag and then filled it with ice from the freezer.
“I’m going to try it and call you back.”
I hung up and sought out Max, who had lied down in the meanwhile. I rolled him over onto his back (he was such a sweet, docile dog) and saw to my joyful surprise that it had gone in on it’s own. The ice pack wasn’t necessary. I called the vet back.
“Problem solved.”
I brought Max in to see him the next day and while he was being examined I referred to him as ‘Boner Boy’ and the name stuck. It became our personal nickname for him whenever he visited the clinic for shots, blood draws etc. And I still pet sat for he and Roxy and took them on walks, until 2008 when the bottom fell out of the market and the family had to cut back on their spending and could no longer afford me. It was sad to see them go.
But while I was still pet sitting for them I had to tell the owners about what happened, and they had to confront the issue that their dog was gay (or bi) and that the three probably shouldn’t be combined for overnight pet sitting. After that I took care of the houses separately. Black Jack’s owners continued to be a client of mine after Max and Roxy no longer were, so I would see them around the neighborhood, and then eventually they didn’t need me anymore either. But by that time my clients had all turned over and I’d replaced them with new ones, but I’ll never forget little Max the Boner Boy, his sweet sister Roxy and the ever-randy Mr. Black Jack…they were always ‘up’ for a good time!

 

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Welcome to Dairy Land or See Ya San Diego!

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I haven’t updated this blog since June, might have been May, I’m not quite sure. What started as something I updated every week became more and more sporadic as a health problem took over my life, changed everything, and left me to pick up the pieces. The topic of the blog started to take a turn in late March/early February; what started as funny anecdotes about pet sitting became personal rants about various things. Then there were a few posts about my health issue, how a primary care physician mismanaged it and then nothing…tumbleweeds…less than nothing. My life as I knew it completely changed, forcing me to move from sunny San Diego back to rain-soaked Madison Wisconsin (a fine city in its own right but nonetheless very different from what I’d been accustomed to over the last decade) to live with my parents while I figured things out. Here I am, a man in his mid-forties, and a serious sleep disorder forced me to move back to Wisconsin from California to live in my parent’s basement. It’s almost like the set-up to a bad movie produced by Happy Gilmore Productions (no offence dudes). And the town they live in is cow pastureland, cornfields and dairy farms. I moved from the very edge of the Pacific Ocean and into the heart of cheese country.
There are many things I use to console me: 1) I can now watch the Packers play every week during football season 2) My entire family lives here and I do enjoy their company very much 3) Once I get my shit together I can get the f*ck out of here and go back to California. We’ll see how that works out.
I am writing this on the evening before seeing the neurologist to review the results of my polysomnagraph (a sleeping EEG). This was a test I’d begged my doctor in Encinitas for but he refused me, telling me it was ‘a pain in the ass’ and that he could figure out my problem without tests. Well, thanks to the neurologist here, we know what I am dealing with (preliminary results were phoned to me right after the test) and that it is nothing life threatening, but what a trial it has been! I’ve been hosting a seemingly endless stream of ‘exaggerated hypnic jerks’, sleep starts that every one has but, in my case, EXAGGERATED. Most people will have a few and then fall asleep. Mine go on all night, every night, nonstop. Just when I am on the verge of sleep: POW! A jerk that shakes my whole body (or just moves my hand, foot, arm, leg, neck, back etc.) waking me up. Shit, I’ve been through this a million times. I’m sort of sick of telling the story.
Irony, that lousy bitch, came in the form of my returning to this lovely manure tainted paradise and the problem seemingly going away. All of a sudden I could sleep without twitching, and I was able to reduce the medication I took nightly. I did the sleep study and it showed I was ‘normal’. Five days later and the twitches came back with a vengeance straight out of the bible. Seriously, they were like electric shocks being sent through me at regular intervals (possibly from a cow prod?). And worse yet, the medication was no longer working! Sleeping pills used to shut them down and now it was barely keeping them at bay. I was jittering and jiving the night away until I was forced to get up because sleep was impossible.
The worst part of the whole ordeal (besides leaving my sunny seaside town and my pet-sitting business and my independence) was having to try and get people to understand my problem. Somebody was forever giving me advice on what they did when they couldn’t sleep. I don’t know how many times I had to tell them: it isn’t that I can’t sleep, this isn’t insomnia! I am jerking more than a prepubescent boy who’s just discovered masturbation! This is a physical problem, not a mental one. Of course, the longer it went on, it became a mental problem; I nearly had a nervous breakdown from lack of sleep. Hence why I came to my parents house and am writing this in their basement, hence why I abandoned a successful business in one of the best cities in America to cut grass and weed flowerbeds.
So, this blog can still be about funny pet sitting stories, no problem there, but I am no longer a pet sitter. In fact, as I alluded in the previous paragraph, I’ve been working as a landscaper for my brother in law’s company. I work much harder now and get quite filthy. Inbred chicks at the BP won’t give me a second glance when I come in reeking of organic compost (read: manure) with circles of dirt lining my neck like jewelry. Writing, well, let’s just say I haven’t been doing a great deal of that. My latest novel is stagnating at around two hundred and five pages and promotional activities for my self-published novel The Gyre Mission: Journey to the *sshole of the World have screeched to a dead halt, with the exception of the video pitch I submitted to greenlightmymovie.com. I’m not sure if that $40 was well spent, but it was an interesting experience.
Tomorrow I find out what my neurologist (actually, not my neurologist after tomorrow; I had to switch health insurance and my new policy no longer covers him) thinks of this on again, off again problem. Maybe he will do me a favor and give me a lethal dose of barbiturates, like they use to euthanize animals. Put me out of my misery, as it were. Or maybe he’ll just shrug his shoulder and say: “Sucks to be you dude.” Whatever it is, I’m sure it will be worth the two hundred + bucks it costs for thirty minutes of his time, and that bit of advice you can take to the bank. Just don’t take it to mine; the check will bounce. Peace.

 

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Welcome To Southern California; Love It Or Leave It Douchebags!

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I moved to San Diego from the Midwest a decade ago, and I still can’t get over some of the things I’ve experienced over the years. I live north of SD, in the burbs, and up here the folks are very well off. Let’s put it this way: up here, you’re either rich or you’re poor, poor being anyone who makes less than $40,000 a year. Anyone who makes a pitiable $35,000 is eligible for heat assistance! So you are either rich or you work for the rich people. I suppose it could be worse. By working for them I was able to write my debut novel The Gyre Mission: Journey to the *sshole of the World. Yet with money there is a natural breakdown of what ‘normal’ folks would call civilized behavior. These wealthy douchebags own leased Beamers, Mercedes, Porches, Audi’s, Corvettes, Hummer’s etc. and drive like they own the road and they’ve written the traffic laws themselves. Red lights? Pish-posh. Speed limits? Not here my friend. I’ve lived all over the U.S. and I’ve never seen so many effed-up auto wrecks in my life. Seriously! You know those cars chases in Hollywood movies that seem so unrealistic? Well, they get all their ideas by watching these buttholes drive. First month I was here I saw a woman drive her car off of a twelve-foot embankment and land upside down in a (fortunately) low-tide lagoon. What happened next? People stopped their cars, got out…and took pictures with their phones! I think I’m the only one who called 911. Honestly, one morning I’m driving along El Camino Real and I see a waterspout gushing a hundred feet in the air. Some dillhole took out a fire hydrant! Every morning on Interstate 5 there is a major, five-car pile-up in which at least three people are seriously hurt. How could this happen? Well cheese and crackers it don’t take a genius to know that you gotta let off the gas and use the brake once in a while. I could go on and on but what the hell would it matter…
And where else could I start and profitably maintain a pet sitting/dog walking business in which the majority of my clients treat their pets better than children in third world countries? While little kids with bloated stomachs are eating grubs and being swarmed by flies in some faraway craphole, I’m opening up can after can of cat food for some overweight feline who can’t decide if he wants the tuna or the salmon delight. He’ll then eat half (or a third) and I’ll throw the rest away, thinking about all the hungry kitties in China. The gardeners and the cleaning ladies who commute from Tijuana just can’t get over the fact that my clients and I make such a fuss when one of the spoiled pets has the runs or vomits and is rushed off to the veterinarian. Hell, in their country, the dogs are covered in ticks and fleas and are walking around half-starved, eating out of garbage cans. They’re lucky if they can bring their freakin’ children to the doctor if they’ve been throwing up or have diarrhea, much less their pets.
As an example: I was walking a dog that had been attacked by another dog and suffered severe nerve damage in one rear leg. Hence, when she walked she dragged the limb (until her owners got her a brace). A gardener I walked by commiserated. He said: “Is broken, yes?”
I tried to explain that it was nerve damage but we had a language barrier. No matter what I said, he didn’t understand. So finally I agreed. “Yeah, it’s broken.”
“You get splint,” he advised and I nodded, nodded as I slowly backed away from him. But I understood full well how he thought: in Tijuana their dogs would walk around with broken legs and no one would give it a second thought. Eventually the limb would become necrotic or septic or succumb to gangrene and would need to be amputated. In most cases the dog would simply be put down. He probably thought he was being really kind, offering me the advice. And he was, in his own way. Should I have been angered that he thought I was so stupid I’d let my dog walk around on a broken leg? No, there’s no point. I actually had a client (a white couple) who did just that. Their cat broke a limb and the night before I showed up to pet sit they called me and told me Junior had a limp but it was nothing to worry about. Yeah, it was broken, had been for two weeks. Yes, it was necrotic. Yes, it had to be amputated. These people were white and rich and incredibly stupid. Sh*t happens.
So come on out to sunny Southern California! If you make less than $50,000 a year there’s a good trailer park I’ll point you in the direction of, and places where you can get food stamps and discount clothing. Don’t worry that a gallon of milk is $9.00 or gas is $6.66 for regular unleaded. You got the sun, the beach, and the palm trees. Find yourself in California my friends!

 

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To Sleep, Perchance To Dream (I Need Some F’in Sleep!)

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Ah, to sleep, perchance to dream…
That is a very famous quote by the illustrious (and quite venerable) William Shakespeare. And that dude knew what he was talking about, I’ll tell you what. Now, I’m only using that quote as a great opening line. All similarities end there. This post isn’t about him or any relation to that quote. Anyway…
You never know just how great sleep is until that day when, for some reason, you simply can’t get it. Some people suffer from insomnia, others from pain that keeps them from sleeping, but there is another condition that can rob you of sleep, one that really sucks because if it didn’t exist exhaustion would simply carry you away.
I’m talking about ‘Hypnic Jerks’, and when they become severe enough they are known as ‘Myoclonic Jerks’. The first is a seemingly innocuous series of muscle spasms that happen as you are about to fall asleep. Just as you are crossing the threshold into slumber land one of your body parts twitches, awakening you. This happens to a lot of people, maybe a couple times a night before they finally fall asleep. The second is a serious disorder that can cause real problems. Treatment involves tranquilizers or anticonvulsants. Bummer? Yeah.
Two weeks ago I developed these symptoms. One night (after a weekend of heavy partying-please, don’t ask. I’m not very proud of myself) I was kept awake all night long because of these Hypnic jerks. When I got out of bed the next day I realized I’d slept maybe an hour tops. This went on for three more nights until I sought medical help. I simply had to. With each passing night and no sleep I felt as if I was having an out of body experience. I didn’t trust myself to drive (yet I did, I had to) and I thought about Christian Bale’s character from the Machinist, about how he claimed to have not slept for a year. If I had to go a year without sleep I’d be dead fifty-one weeks prior to that, no f-in’ shite. It really sucked the big one. You know it’s bad when, at around three in the morning, you are thinking about what you might take the next night to get to sleep. Since the Benadryl didn’t work that night, I’d think, tomorrow I’ll try Nightquil.
The doctor at urgent care was kind enough to prescribe some strong tranquilizers, and at last I’ve been able to sleep, but here it is 14 days later and the Hypnic jerks haven’t gone away. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared. I went to my regular doctor today and he said to stay on the med’s I’d been prescribed and in two weeks we’d reevaluate. The next step, if they don’t go away, is to get an MRI. Then we can see what is going haywire in my brain. Oh yeah, and I’m sure my health care provider is going to deny me coverage for the test; last year it was recommended that I get a CAT scan and my doctor’s office had to practically put a gun to their head to okay it. If I need an MRI, I’ll probably have to pay for it myself.
What, you ask yourself, does this have to do with pet sitting or promoting my novel? Well, I was pet sitting through the whole thing, so one of the houses I was staying at (the week I didn’t sleep for four nights) became a house of horrors to me. Each night I sat and listened to the same sounds; the rustle of the blinds from the ceiling fan, the breathing of the dogs, the newspapers slapping the pavement when they arrived around four a.m…Jesus, it was awful. I kept it together pretty well though, I have to say; I don’t think the dogs noticed anything unusual about me (except that I paced around and talked to myself a lot).
I am now at the point where I’ve had sleep almost every night for about a week (I say ‘almost’ because one night I tried to cut the medication dosage; didn’t work, I didn’t sleep), and I am feeling back to ‘normal’. Unfortunately, the sleep is ‘drug sleep’ so I feel sort of spacey throughout the day. I guess I am writing this because it just helps to write, to concentrate. I haven’t worked on my new novel in three weeks (since before this started) and I’ve only recently continued my promotional efforts.
To sleep, perchance to dream…I have another great quote, but the source isn’t as well-regarded as the first: ‘You don’t know what you got until it’s gone…gone…gone…
(Yeah, I still have a sense of humor buried in here somewhere. It’s stuck between the folds of a brain I am trying to call out of early retirement.) Peace.

 

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Man Whore 101; Just Another Day In Paradise

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I sat down to write a blog post about another funny pet-sitting incident and found that, at my current pet-sitting job, it was all but impossible to come up with something because the pets were, in a word, distracting. While pounding away at my laptop the parrot (Pedro, colored a festive red and sporting an extensive vocabulary) kept shrieking “I want to come out! I want to come out!” at the top of his lungs while Henry, a yellow lab, kept blindsiding me with love/lick attacks every ten minutes or so when he got bored with licking his massive, overly-sized, veiny balls. Not to mention Lilly, the little poodle-mix who, whenever the spirit moved her (which was quite often) decided that a good bout of incessant barking was necessary to keep the household vibe flowing smoothly. It was within this chaos that I, the ever-fearless writer extraordinaire, tried in vain to concentrate upon what would merely be a 500-1000 word post that would probably be read by two people. Oh the humanity!
Yes, the trials and tribulations of a writer beset with the occupation of tending to people’s pets is fraught with interruptions; sometimes I wonder why the hell I got into this business in the first place and then I remember: I dropped out of college and went on the road with a grunge/metal band and failed to make any money. After an extensive tour of duty as a fry cook, grill cook, pizza maker, sandwich maker and prep-cook in various restaurants, ultimately leading me to working in a dog kennel and then becoming a veterinary technician, this seemed like a dream job. I stayed in a lot of mansions, swam in a wide variety of saltwater pools, drank gallons of expensive, bottled beer and watched The Simpson’s on TV’s big enough to screen the latest Pixar masterpiece.
But after a while you yearn for your own house (in my case trailer-cue the banjo music maestro, please), and your own bed. Lately I’ve noticed that I dream crazy, vivid, lucid dreams while I’m at my place and hardly dream at while I’m pet-sitting. That can’t be good.
When I think about it, I find it amazing that I was able to write my novel The Gyre Mission: Journey to the *sshole of the World under such conditions. I barely wrote any of it at my trailer. I pet sat so much between 2009 and 2012 that the time I spent at the trailer was mostly consumed by drinking binges and intense masturbation sessions. Good times, yes, very good times…
So, as if to punctuate this entry with a hefty dose of realism, I was just interrupted during the writing of this blog by the house owner’s mother. The dogs started going crazy and, after a quick inspection I found her trying every key on her ring in an attempt to gain entry. She claimed to have sent me a text to inform me that she’d be stopping by but, alas, I never got it. So for almost an hour I entertained this elderly woman as she stumbled around the large house, going from room to room, asking after each pet (I failed to mention there was also a gecko and a beta fish). I assured her that Gecky had enough crickets to eat and that the fish didn’t appear to be suffering from ‘swim bladder’, a condition she was certain the poor little fellow had. I watched with ensuing hilarity as she tried to have a conversation with Pedro, but his vast knowledge of the English language far surpassed hers and he overwhelmed her. Recognizing defeat, she decided to go home.
After letting her out and locking the door behind her I took a deep breath, let it out, and wondered if maybe my old job manning the wing station at Hooters was still available. I recalled that the job left me feeling very conflicted (in between bouts of horniness I was plagued by a terrible, all-consuming depression) and thought that maybe I’d give them a call. What the hell, couldn’t hurt.

 

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Are You Questioning My Authority? You Are? Damn!

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When you take care of pets professionally, one thing you begin to recognize is the power struggle that exists between the pet and you. As the hired caretaker, their perception of your place in the hierarchy of their household requires some scrutiny. I often used to joke that some pets thought of it like this: 1) themselves 2) their owner 3) the other pets/toys 4) the plants 5) me. Of course this wasn’t always true, but dealing with the pampered pets that I have, I ran into it quite often. Enough to dedicate a blog to it at any rate.
One of my first clients was an elderly woman’s extremely spoiled cocker spaniel. When this dog wanted something, she wanted it NOW. I’d taken her out for a walk before a Packer’s/Vikings game, wanting to make sure I had no distractions. Barely the first quarter had gone by and she wanted to go out again. Since she’d already done her business, I told her to wait until halftime (yes, she understood me, of this I am certain). When I wouldn’t make with the walk she jumped up on the couch, looked me in the eye, squatted, and took a piss. It was a white couch.
Another dog I cared for on a regular basis demanded a certain amount of playtime per day and, if it wasn’t met, would get quite surly. The amount of time he wanted to play? Every waking minute. While I was in his house nothing would do but that I constantly throw a toy or ball for him. The owners would tell me later that he slept for three days straight after I’d taken care of him.
Not all of them were so funny. One dog actually got violent with me if I wouldn’t let her have her way. When I walked her she would get agitated when she saw other dogs, and when I wouldn’t allow her to chase after them she would bite me instead. Fortunately she was a little dog, but the bites still hurt. On one occasion she wanted to go outside and bark at something (squirrels, birds, leaves blowing by) and when I didn’t let her she crept up on me stealthy as a fox (are foxes really that stealthy? For the purposes of this blog let’s say they are) where I was lying on the couch. She jumped on my chest and stood over me, her face in mine. I froze, watching her carefully. Before I could say ‘nice little doggy doggy’ she took my lips in her teeth and bit me so hard I thought I was going to require a visit to the emergency room. Pulling her off must have been a hilarious sight; it’s too bad I don’t have video to post on youtube. To this day I have a small, white, crescent shaped scar on my top lip you can see clearly when I smile.
Yes, the question of authority has been raised by many of my furry friends, and my job first and foremost has always been to let them have their way as much as possible, just so I don’t get hurt.

 

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Puke-O-Rama

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My illustrious pet-sitting career began as quite the lark. I’d been working as a veterinary technician for over seven years when I met a vet who seemed quite similar to myself. He enjoyed heavy metal, drinking beer and adult cartoons. We had so much in common! So when it came time for he and his wife to take a trip for their wedding anniversary I was the logical contender to stay at his house and watch his pets. No problem, I told him, piece of cake. I’d been over to his house before, had met all of these wonderful companion animals and thought I’d enjoy a week of watching his high def flat screen TV, drinking beer and hanging with his pack. As this job would teach me, nothing is ever quite what it seems when you are taking care of someone else’s pets.
One thing of note: he had ten pets, three dogs and seven cats. He’d brought two dogs and three cats to the marriage, his wife one dog and four cats. They got on famously, of that I must assure you; there was no problem regarding the dogs taking after the cats, but it meant the house was quite full. He told me that if he took on one more pet he’d have to apply for a kennel license.
The invaluable lesson I was to learn was that animals, like children, acted differently when someone else was in charge. My veterinarian buddy was the alpha-male of the house and his pets knew and respected that. I’ve never been an alpha anything. Houseplants don’t listen to me, much less cats and dogs. When I took over they perceived me as an easy mark.
The first sign of this was when I had dinner. I was making a frozen pizza and suddenly the twelve by fourteen space was filled with the lot of them, vying for room on the counters. Eerily, it reminded me of the movie ‘The Birds’. They just perched there, looking like a ravenous flock of vultures. I admit my efforts to shoo them were half-hearted at best; like I said, I’m not a very dominating presence. I tried to scare some loitering eight-year-old kids out of a store I worked at once and they laughed at me. And that was after I pulled the baseball bat out from under the counter and began swinging it around like a lunatic. So these guys were no different. When my meal was ready I found myself hiding in the bathroom, eating on the toilet. Outside the door I imagined I could hear their bellies rumbling, their chops slavering drool. Kitty paws appeared under the door, looking for any scrap that may fall within reach. Throughout my entire stay that was how I took my meals, hiding in one room or another. Now, when I’d hung-out with my buddy this had never happened, and it wasn’t because he yelled at them. Silently, they simply obeyed.
The next bit of business I must attribute to my own lack of awareness. Just that week I’d decided to quit smoking, so my head wasn’t quite where it should have been. I was trying to counteract the nicotine urges by drinking a lot of caffeine during the day and a lot of beer at night. Not a very brilliant idea, I have to tell you, as this made me crave cigarettes even more. I admit I was a bit on edge.
Plopped on the couch in a spot I’d claimed as my own, I sat watching Futurama DVD’s while sipping cold bottles of Grolsch. Since I was doing this for free food and beer (no actual money) I was making myself quite at home. Rest assured that these critters were getting their walks and meals and medications; I enjoyed these frothy beverages only after their care had been tended to. So it was that I vaguely noticed when one of the dogs brought forth the granddaddy of all chew bones, a rawhide monstrosity in the shape of a candy cane nearly two feet in length. To this day I have no idea what I was thinking (besides “God I want a cigarette, God I want a cigarette!”) as I let the three dogs have at it with reckless abandon. And have at they did; they devoured nearly all of it by the time I was ready for bed. I feel very irresponsible about this now because I really should have known better, and am very lucky that nothing worse than what happened transpired.
I awoke to take a pee around three in the morning and for some reason decided to look in on the dogs. Entering the living room where they had their beds, I stepped into a large pile (barefoot, of course) of something warm and chunky. Quickly backing away, I landed in another pile, and then another, and another as I made my way to the wall light switch. Once I could see I saw that the shag rug was covered in mound after mound of rawhide-laden puke. Seriously, it was fucking everywhere. My first reaction was to get mad (nicotine withdrawal is, truly, a bitch) and after yelling and cussing for a bit I decided I might as well get to it. This barf wasn’t going to clean itself up. The dogs watched me from their respective beds, not a one of them with a look of guilt in their eyes. And why should they? I was the idiot who let them eat the whole thing in the first place. In retrospect what I was grateful for later was that none of them got any stuck in their throat. Those rawhide chews can be quite nasty in that way. But, at the time, all I saw was the gallons and gallons of puke I had to clean up. It took me almost two hours.
My third lesson would later become advice I’d repeat to myself ad nauseum for future jobs, when pet-sitting became my primary occupation: no matter what instructions an owner imparts upon you about how they do something (or how their pet reacts to something) do it how you would do it, not how they would. For example: whenever an owner told me how they administered their pet’s medication and I followed suit, it never worked. I had to do it how I was accustomed to doing it or they would spit the pill out. Some told me to cradle their cat like a baby and simply drop the medication down their throat. Some claimed I could offer it like one would a treat. These methods never worked. Instead I had to use an industry standard ‘pillgun’ to get those suckers down.
So, in this case, my good friend told me his dogs were fine off-leash, that they were trained to always come when they were called. Once again I cannot emphasize enough: people’s pets will always do something else when someone different is in charge.
On one of our mid-morning strolls I decided to allow the boys (the dogs were all males) a little room to stretch their legs, so I unclipped them from their collars. Big mistake. At once they ran in three different directions, disappearing quickly. I spent the next hour running through the neighborhood, screaming my voice raw, in a state of semi-hysteria. When I at last corralled them I was so relieved I gave them all treats (instead of a reprimand) and vowed never to repeat that experience again.
And so the job went and the week passed and my friend returned. I told him everything, of course, and he had a good laugh. He told me he’d thought the dogs wouldn’t be able to get at the giant rawhide but wasn’t surprised at their cunning. He also marveled that they ran away when I turned them loose. His wife found it hilarious that I was forced to take my meals in the bathroom. We cracked three beers and toasted their continued good health and safe return. Sipping my beer, I had no idea that this would later be something I’d embark upon professionally, and be quite successful at it to boot. If you’d told me then I probably would have laughed in your face, judging by how badly I did on one of my first go-rounds. Well, the ability to have time to write necessitates many things, and sometimes we’ll do almost anything for it. That’s what it was for me, that’s why I wound up here. In the end it panned out and I wrote ‘The Gyre Mission: Journey to the *sshole of the World’, a rather lengthy tome I am quite proud of. Maybe it wouldn’t have happened had I gone down the other path and continued to grind away at the normal nine to five. Who knows?
For questions regarding my prices, my availability and just how much puke it takes to fill a five-gallon bucket (hint: five gallons) give me a call. Operators are standing by.

 

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